ANTIPERSPIRANT USE DOES NOT INCREASE RISK OF BREAST CANCER
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Contrary to widespread rumor, there is no evidence to supportthe idea that use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorantscauses breast cancer, according to a study reported in the October16, 2002 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute(2002;94:1578–1580). This rumor circulated so widely on theInternet it became a public concern, a kind of urban myth, despitethe fact there had not been any published, scientific reportssuggesting any such association.
In response to the rumor, both the American Cancer Society (ACS)and National Cancer Institute have posted articles on theirWeb sites to assure the public that there is no scientific basisfor this concern. «Even though our antiperspirant article isthree years old,» noted Editorial and New Media Director forthe ACS, Chuck Westbrook, «it consistently ranks among our mostviewed news stories, with more than 10,000 page views in thepast year,» he said.
«Most women who contact us about this issue are relieved whenwe tell them that the claims made in this rumor are inconsistentwith what is known about breast cancer risk factors,» says CarolHarrison, a supervisor in the ACS National Cancer InformationCenter. «But a few have remained concerned because we were unableto refer to a study that specifically addressed this issue.We’re relieved that we now have more to reassure thesewomen.»
Dana K. Mirick, MS, and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson CancerResearch Center in Seattle, conducted a case control study of813 women aged 20 to 74 living in Washington. These women, diagnosedwith breast cancer from 1992 to 1995, were compared with 793women without the disease. Investigators found no link betweenbreast cancer and regular use of underarm antiperspirants ordeodorants even when the products were applied within one hourof underarm shaving. «Specifically, there was concern [expressedin the Internet rumors] that such products might contain harmfulsubstances that could be absorbed via small nicks or abrasionscaused by hair removal,» the study authors wrote.
Whether the women used antiperspirants or deodorants, or shavedwith a blade razor or used another form of underarm hair removal,there was no evidence of a link to the risk of breast cancer,concluded the authors, who indicated that it was their hopethat the findings in their study would «help alleviate the concernsof many that the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorantscould alter their risk for breast cancer.»